Category Archives: Festivals & Sabbats

Curses & Blessings at the Witches’ Sabbat

By | Events, Festivals & Sabbats, Witchcraft & Magic | 7 Comments

Once upon a time, not so very long ago, witches came from miles around to meet in the woods and learn from each other about cursing and warding magic. I remember walking a dense spiral path formed by trees and earth alone, the mossy ground slimy under my feet and covered in mushrooms and the tiniest of toads. I caught the toads and they baptized my hands with their poison. There was a clearing with four stangs in each corner adorned with skulls and antlers, their feet covered in offerings.  It was a place full of genius loci and magical potency, but I spent most of my time on a forest path sitting at the door of the sacred mound of gnome home, offering smoke as well as blood via mosquitoes to the nisse. I remember cooking in large iron cauldrons over a hot fire under the hot sun and needing to jump in the river to cool off. I remember people feeding me bannock dripping with honey and my fingers bloody from eating a rare cow heart cooked over the flames, the women shouting “Khaleesi!” Words fell out of my mouth and sang a song of henbane; its history, folklore, magical…

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Scandinavian Midsummer Festival

By | Events, Festivals & Sabbats | 3 Comments

The local Scandinavian Midsummer Festival is in its 19th year. We attempted to go last year, but it didn’t work out and so were determined to make it this summer solstice. We woke up early with the baby boy and off we went to the Scandinavian Cultural Centre to make it in time for the brunch. We ate, we roamed around through the tents dedicated to each country, we browsed the artisans’ wares, we ate some more, we drank a goodly amount of beer, we watched the young couples warm up for the wife-carrying contest, we listened to music and we watched lovely ladies walk by with handmade flower crowns. I wished to make a flower crown of my own, but the table was filled with ravenous flower-hungry women and I did not wish for an elbow in the eye. The food was nothing to write home about, there were only pale ales on tap, there were only a few artisans of note, and there was a lot of non-Scandinavian-ness going on, but overall we had a wonderful midsummer’s day. We even ran into my old wonderful Finnish landlord who I miss. Old because he’s no longer our landlord and…

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Feeding Spirits and Bones

By | Animism, Festivals & Sabbats, Witchcraft & Magic | 9 Comments

They slept in total darkness for a month, carefully wrapped in soft cloths and furs, hidden away in a box. Quiet and patient spirits inhabiting skulls, bones, feathers, teeth, claws, horns, antlers, stones, fetiches, and a witch’s tools. Then one day light flooded in and gentle hands descended to remove them one by one, laying them out first on a blanket and then arranging the spirits on top of a antique dresser nicknamed “the beast”; a massive, solid wooden creature with hidden drawers, ancient keyholes, and intricate barley twists. Skulls grinned, feathers ruffled, and blessed water shone blue through a holey stone and a silver ring – all on a softly spotted tawny deer hide layered with the fur of a black wolf. Old Man and Old Woman settled their ancient bones back into the remnants of creatures native to their wild domain, no doubt having missed their shrine and the once regular offerings to be found there. The Moon’s candle was restored to its place above breasts and belly carved from stone, surrounded by offerings. She eats beeswax greedily like blood offerings, leaving nothing behind. A candle lit to welcome the spirits back with sweetest incense burned and fresh water…

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Snow and Warmth, Darkness and Light

By | Cooking, Festivals & Sabbats, Folk Magic | 4 Comments

ou can feel her coming. She’s not subtle. The chill bite in the air hurts your lungs, makes your eyes water, and nips at your bare skin, turning it bright red. Frost and ice cover every green thing and every trace of water. Then a soft grey blanket covers the sky like a gentle reprieve followed by a strange silence and softly falling flakes of pure white snow. Then you know An Cailleach Bheara has arrived. She shakes her grey wool shawl and it snows. She strikes her staff on the ground and everything nearby freezes, frost splaying outward like cracks in ice. Neither benevolent or malevolent, she is a force of nature. “Why is my face so dark, so dark?   So dark, oho! so dark, ohee! Out in all weathers I wander alone   In the mire, in the cold, ah me!” ~ From the tale “Beira, Queen of Winter“ I like to appease the old one-eyed, blue-faced crone when she comes to visit as I figure it’s better to be friends with such a force than to face her icy wrath. She likes whiskey, but her arrival this year surprised me and I had none. A hot cup of…

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Of Goblins and Dark Sacrifices

By | Festivals & Sabbats, Witchcraft & Magic | 14 Comments

his year I chose to host a fun, playful ritual to avoid the somber Samhain syndrome we witches are so often afflicted with this time of year. Somberness has a place in ancestor reverence, but I’ve found that at large events near Halloween people tend to come with too much mischief bubbling over to successfully transmute into seriousness. The solution? Host a gathering of dark fairies with plenty of trouble and fun for them to get into …and so the All Hallow’s Goblin Market was born! What is a Goblin Market? A market of all manner of wonders for the dark fairy court and its unsavoury members. The market hall ceiling was decorated with banners of spiders, bats, owls, moons, pumpkins, and papel picado skulls criss-crossing the room. Black cloths covered the tables of vendors and fortune-tellers. Carved pumpkins and lanterns covered every surface and fairy lights wrapped around the darkened hall. There were feast tables covered in treats both savoury and sweet and an altar for the dead and the unseelie fairy court covered in skulls, pumpkins, candles, and flowers. Witches and Pagans came from all over town dressed as goblins, fairies, demons, maenads, monsters and all manner of…

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